Teachers from around the world flock to Scots schools

RECORD numbers of teachers are coming to work in Scotland from elsewhere in the UK and abroad, according to new figures.

Nearly 1,500 have registered in the past year - an increase of 40 per cent from a year ago.

Almost a third came from England, but Scotland also attracted its first teachers from Venezuela and Lithuania.

The Scottish Executive launched a campaign to attract more teachers from overseas at the start of 2005.

The move came as part of its drive to have 53,000 teachers in Scotland's schools by 2007 to allow cuts in class sizes.

Figures released by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) yesterday showed that since then, a total of 1,465 teachers from outwith Scotland have registered to work north of the Border.

Peter Peacock, the education minister, said the record recruitment levels were proof that the Executive's campaign was a success.

He also said that the improved salaries and working conditions ushered in by the McCrone deal on teachers' pay was helping to make the profession more attractive.

He said: "We are determined to meet our ambitious targets to recruit record numbers of teachers and these figures are good news for Scottish education. They show we are on track to reduce class sizes and ensure pupils continue to receive the highest quality teaching.

"Scottish education has an international reputation for high standards and teaching in Scotland has never been more rewarding.

"The pay and conditions are generous and, of course, the work is vital to the continued success of Scotland."

As well as England, large numbers of teachers have also come to Scotland from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Northern Ireland.

Nineteen teachers have come from the Republic of Ireland to take up posts, with a further 12 coming from Poland.

Nearly 400 recruits have begun work in primary schools, while the most popular secondary school subjects are English, biology, history, maths and PE. There has also been an increase in the number of hits on the Executive's website, teachinginscotland.com.

A spokeswoman for the Executive yesterday rejected concerns that some of the foreign teachers may not be fluent enough in English to teach in Scottish schools.

She said: "Each of them has got to satisfy the GTCS that they have the proper qualifications and skills to teach in Scotland, which obviously includes having a high standard of English."

Matthew MacIver, the chief executive of the GTCS, said he was delighted at the increasing numbers of people wanting to teach in Scotland.

He said: "We are very pleased indeed. We have worked very hard to process these applications from other parts of the world and I am sure that they will add to the quality of teaching in Scotland.

"We have a good education system, we have a good reputation, a high standard of teaching in schools and the McCrone agreement has helped as well.

"We are also an attractive country for teachers because they recognise that we place great importance in education."

Figures released earlier this year showed that the number of teachers in Scotland's schools had risen over the past year.

The total number of primary, secondary and special teachers in state schools in 2004 stood at 49,554 - 324 more than in 2003.

When pre-school teachers were taken into account, the total number of teachers was 51,287.

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